BAHRAIN'S HEALTHY CONSUMPTION GAINS.

PositionIn 2003, household demand for high-end goods and services should increase by 2-5% - Brief Article

With a population of not quite 0.7 million, Bahrain has a minute but relatively prosperous consumer base. In an atmosphere of very low inflation, GDP expansion of 4.5 to 5.5 percent over the past two years has been enough to bring about a moderate increase in purchasing power.

Household demand for high-end goods and services should rise in the range of 2 to 5 percent during 2003. During the first half of the year, the increase will be pegged at the bottom end of that range due to concerns related to increasing hostilities in the Middle East. Demand for high-end services should benefit from increased activity in the tourism and financial services sectors by the second half of the year.

One of the challenges facing the government is to improve the living standards of the Shiite Muslim population that has traditionally been trapped at the low end of the wage scale. In order...

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